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Do you review your business regularly?

Whatever your starting point today, you are where you are. It doesn’t matter what’s gone before. It doesn’t matter that that promotion worked, but the one that cost you loads in time and effort flopped. What’s important is that you learn from reviewing your business regularly.

review your business regularlyThe aim of your business review…

…is to look at everything through the clear eyes. I know you love everything about your business. And you spent months on ‘that’ particular part of your business. But really, as you review, have an open mind and open heart to look, see and listen.

How to review your business

So, “what do I review?”, I have clients saying. OK, it’s not flippant, but you do need to review everything in your business. Not every week, or month, but regularly.

  1. Review your business financials – are they what you were expecting at this time? Have you had more income in one area of your business that was unexpected, over the budget or plan you’d written?
  2. Review your customer service – whether you’re a one wo/man band, or have a staff team, what are the customer service issues that have come up. Is it a process issue that needs fixing, or a communication one? Is there something that’s not working quite right?
  3. Review your products and services – are they meeting your customer requirements? Are they profitable (or will be profitable once you hit x sales)? Are they what your customers are asking for? Is there something you’re being asked for that you could provide?
  4. Review your website – is your website working correctly? Do you have any errors showing on your webmaster console? Are you going to fix them, or do you have a web support person who does this for you? When was the last time you added content to your website? Are all your products and services up to date & still available? Are there any old products still listed which need removing?
  5. Review your staff / team – is everyone doing what you want them to do? To the standard you require? Are they value for money & adding value to your business? When was the last time you spent time with each team member to review your business goals and where they fit into that in your strategy?
  6. Review your business targets – targets are there to be aimed at, but things happen. New products come on the market; customer tastes alter; you change focus of what your business is about

 

How often should you review your business

Well that’s very much down to you and your business. We know you’ve got enough on your plate with ensuring all areas of the business are running smoothly. However, reviewing should be part of your business cycle that’s a standard part of at least your monthly schedule.

Some areas will only need a quarterly or half yearly review, but others you’ll want to spend more time on. For example, if you’re spending money on online advertising or social media support, you’ll want to know that this is bringing you the return you want.

All our businesses are different, so we’ll all have different priorities for review. We’ll all have different systems, but that’s fine. It has to work for us and our business.

Have we missed any areas for reviewing in your business? Please let us know in the comments below.

If you need help with your own business review, let us help you get clear. Book some time with Tracey-Jane & let’s get reviewing.

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Common sense GDPR for your business

Data protection and GDPR is a business process that you should be integral to your business. There are no exemptions for small and micro businesses. However, GDPR shouldn’t be scaring you, as it’s a business process for you to use and store your customers information, safely and securely.

GDPR – it’s a process for using and storing information

Annabel Kaye, KoffeeKlatch

NOTE: Replace DATA with the word INFORMATION and the process will make more sense for your business

common sense gdpr with annabel kayeI recently interviewed Annabel Kaye from KoffeeKlatch who as a employment law expert has been helping small businesses work through contracts and legal compliance since 1989. Since last summer, Annabel and her team have been sharing a common sense GDPR approach with small and micro businesses.

We like common sense & believe we share a common sense approach to business & our business support to you.

We’ve seen, and heard, many scaremongers about GDPR which has turned businesses off, rather than supporting them to go through the review process of how you manage and store information in your business. So, here’s our common sense GDPR suggestions for you to get to grips with what you need to do in YOUR business.

Common sense GDPR tips for your business

  1. Schedule a couple of hours a week to work on your own common sense GDPR processes for your business
  2. Download and use the simple plain english checklist from KoffeeKlatch
  3. List all your business software, then check their approach to storing information e.g. If you use an online or cloud based system, you need to know where & how they store their information. Most support services are being very clear about GDPR so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding what they’re doing in response to GDPR, like Mailchimp
  4. Think about your business. What information do you NEED to enable you to run your business efficiently? For example, if you have an online shop, it’s likely you need customer name and an email address, and possibly a phone number for any order queries.
  5. Thinking about your business, how long do you need to retain customer information? You will need to retain accounting records (and evidence of VAT sales) for the required time, so don’t be ditching customer records each year!
  6. If a customer signs up to a newsletter about your local service, that means, “a newsletter about your local service”.
  7. Those people on your current lists, are you happy that you can explain how they got on your list even if you’ve not got the hard copy of the original sign up form?
  8. Think about your own personal information. How do you want your own information to be stored and used by other businesses, doctors, charities, employers? Do you want it to be respected? Now think about how you can respect the information of your customers within your business, and keep it safe, without it costing you the earth in time or money (and it shouldn’t be doing either).

I’m creating diagrams of each part of my business so I can see what information I get from potential customers, existing clients, and past customers. I’m writing down all the different systems I use. I like to see things in front of me, but that may not work for you.

During the interview with Annabel, we talk through marketing CONSENT, with an example from one of our members, which is the biggest question we’re getting in the Business Cheerleading Club, where we talk through & support individual business situations.

What common sense GDPR tips would you add?

Confused, or are you all sorted with your information processes? Taking a common sense GDPR view is the best way to move forward, wherever you’re starting from at this point in time. 

Common sense business support and encouragement is available in the Business Cheerleading Club, open to any business owner looking to grow your business. For detailed support, please use the KoffeeKlatch GDPR support.

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5 tips for starting your own business

Starting your own business is an exciting step in your life. It can also be a challenge to ensure you get everything done that you need for ensuring it’s right for you, and is set up for sustainable growth, without you getting overwhelmed.

don't lose focus when starting your own businessTo help you get started, we’ve created a start up checklist for the nitty gritty of starting your own business. However, don’t get bogged down in the boring bits, when there’s lots of things to get stuck into when running your own business!

When we help start up businesses, these are the areas we get them to think about to make things a smooth transition into your new business. What would you add?

Tips for starting your own business

  1. Know your reason for starting your own business & keep that in mind. If you’ve created a new product, fantastic. Well done you 🙂 If you’re wanting more flexibility around your family, keep that in mind. Don’t get bogged down in working all hours in your business, when your whole idea was to spend more time with the family! (Believe me, it happens, which is why I mention this first!).
  2. How many hours are you working on your business each week. Be clear. If you’re working elsewhere whilst growing your business, you’ll need to be really strict with yourself. If you have other commitments, it’s good to think about what hours you’re working so you don’t get distracted.
  3. What name are you using for your business. If you’re a sole trader you can use your own name without risking contention with anyone else in business. You own your name. If you want to use a brand name or business name, check out existing trademarks to ensure you don’t get into trouble before you start.
  4. What’s your goal for the next 6 months. I’m sure you’re wanting to “make a million” next week with your business! Well, that’s unlikely to happen! So thinking about what you want to achieve in stages is helpful, even if you don’t achieve them, it’s likely that you’ll achieve something better. Often you’ll find that as you start your own business you’ll change things slightly to make them work better for you, so the goal posts will change over time as you get feedback. Having those initial 6 month, and 12 month goals will help you focus on a target that then moves with review.
  5. Who’s supporting you. Whilst you’re busy starting your own business, how are you being supported? You need to ensure your partner, family and friends are right behind you. Do you have a structure to your week that means you’ve got regular time off to do the fun things you love? Don’t stop doing them, as you can’t work in the business all the time. You need your breaks, and for your brain to switch off from the business regularly. Being strict with your time off is just as important as being strict with your time in the business.

When you’re running your own business, you are responsible for everything. That can be wonderful, but also a challenge. There’ll be some aspects you love, and others you put to one side and leave. Start out thinking about them all and working out how they’ll all get done, even if it’s not you doing some parts.

Free Checklist for running your own business

We’re here to help support you as you grow your own business. For starters, download the free Start Up Checklist, then ask for the help you need:

What other tips would you add for others starting their own business? Let them know in the comments below.

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Do you have problems staying focused?

It’s interesting that on the day I’ve been talking about staying focused, I’ve had distractions which have taken me away from what I’d wanted to achieve! 😉

We all have distractions. We’re busy people. We have lives which are full of things we enjoy doing. We have friends and family we want to spend time with. We need to eat and exercise and sleep (not that these should ever be distractions!).

But the one thing that I hear from the business owners, in all sorts of different ways, is they struggle staying focused, and it worries them. Does it worry you too?

Staying focused

cathy presland - staying focusedI had a wonderful conversation with Cathy Presland today, (click the link or image to watch the 20 minute conversation), who in her own inimitable way, suggested that focus in itself can be a distraction to what we’re wanting to create and achieve. So anyone who came to the conversation live would probably have been disappointed not to have learnt any #tipsforbusiness about staying focused.

OK, so if staying focused is a distraction, and our to do list is a distraction, what can we do? Are we in one big vicious circle of getting nothing done?

No of course not!

Staying focused on the current activity will bring that to an end quicker. That’s an obvious statement I know, but one we often forget to carry out.

What about, as I talked about in our conversation, when you’re trying to get something done, and the children need feeding, and you remember you should be somewhere else. What then? How do you stay focused then?

Cathy suggested that you know the answer. I agree. Even though you want a checklist to work through each time this happens, a question to ask about “what is my focus?”, and that will tick all the boxes and get you back in focus, will that solve the issue?

The children will still need feeding at the same time as you should be somewhere else, whilst you’re trying to finish a piece of work. That hasn’t changed. So where should your focus be? Only you can know the answer to that. Are the children starving? How important is that other thing you should be doing?

How are you staying focused?

The scenarios we talked about may not be the focus issues you’re having. You may feel that by asking the question, “What do I know to do in this moment?” we’re not helping you get the focus you want.

What if you try it? What if you asked yourself, “What do I know to do?” and see what the answer is. Those to do lists and things you think you “should” do may take on a different perspective.

It’s interesting. A lot of the conversations we’re having in the Business Cheerleading Club are about these types of issues. If you want more help with focusing on your business, or an aspect in your business, get in touch.

Share your thoughts on staying focused in the comments below & let’s see what we come up with together.

 

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Business is personal

Do you think business is personal? When you do business with others, for your family or your business, does it make a difference who/where you buy from?

I don’t just mean buying local, or focus on small business economy. I mean the person, (or the group of people), you buy from. The service they offer, not just the products, or the price.

So, whatever your personal preferences, think about what your customers think, and how they act. How can you make business personal for them?

Tips to make your business more personal

  1. Make sure your business shows the customer the people behind the business. Whether you trade solely online, or have a team, show them off. You’re proud of your team aren’t you? Get their photos (good quality), and put them on the website. Introduce them to your customers so they know who they’re dealing with.
  2. Use the name of the person dealing with that part of the process in communications. Whether it’s an email update, or on the despatch note. It makes it more personal experience. If it’s just you, then make sure the customer knows it’s you.
  3. Share your story. Not only do people buy from people, but they like to know your story. They will tell others your story. They may even share their story with you.
  4. Share testimonials. Showing you’re doing a great job for other customers is a perfect way to show that you’re doing a great job, and helps others put their trust in you.
  5. Tell some family stories. Whilst it’s important to keep your private life private, there may be stories you can share to make your world come to life for your customers. It’s surprising how sharing a photograph of a place you’ve visited can instigate a conversation with a potential customer!

If business is personal, are you doing all you can for your business?

business is personal people buy from peopleI say this as you may disagree that business is personal! Please do let me know by leaving a comment.

And if you do agree that business is personal, are you doing ALL you can to promote your business?

  • Are you being yourself?
  • Do you tell your friends about your business, even if they may not be ideal customers they may know someone who is?
  • Are you getting enough sleep so you start work in the right frame of mind each day?
  • Do you take enough breaks so that the quality of your product or service is high quality every time?
  • Does every customer get the same care and attention you want to give?

Whether you agree with the statement, “business is personal” or not, I’d love your thoughts and your tips on what you can do to create a personal experience for your customers to make them feel welcome. Please leave a comment below.